At this point in the process, mostly I feel a huge relief that I don’t have to get on a plane after merely five weeks of being home with family to head back to China. I feel thankful that I haven’t had to stock up on a years’ supply of things I might possibly need: hand-sanitizer, deodorant, hair gel, band-aids, shavers, shaving cream, and so on. Not to mention all the baking goods that seemed so important to me my first year in China. I feel thankful I don’t have to go buy appropriate teaching shoes or blouses that actually fit. I feel happy that I don’t have to buy local snacks such as beef jerky, Chico-sticks, and licorice to stuff into my suitcase. Happy that I haven’t looked at my passport for 5 weeks. Happy that I don’t have to say good-bye to family with such permanence as I cry through most of the domestic flights and layovers on the return journey to China. For these things, I feel relieved and contented. It feels amazing to relax through an entire August without dramatic farewells.
But sometimes when I am shopping at the super market, I think I hear a few Chinese words coming from Caucasian looking kids, and then I realize that I’m just hearing things. I have dreams about my friends in China. In the dream, we are talking, and my friend usually has some big problem she is dealing with. I can’t help her, and usually end up scolding her in the end, telling her she should be more polite. I wake up feeling sad and homesick. I look for these same Chinese friends online. I talk with them late into the night. I have a new hunger to watch all Chinese movies that have ever made it to the States. I am finally ready, yet again, to read books about China after having no desire to do so for the past 4 years. I can’t get enough of Chinesepod. I miss fried noodles. I miss using chopsticks. I say weird things about “harmony” and “convenience.” I watch movies set in China and cry even during the happy parts. My new favorite color is China red. And it has only been 6 weeks since I have been back in the States.